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Healthcare support worker Afsana creates new healthy eating guide for South Asian families

Connect for health WARWICKSHIRE school nursing service

Published on: March 14, 2022

Compass is producing a new healthy eating guide to address the specific needs of people who enjoy a South Asian diet.

Our School Nursing Healthcare Support Worker, Afsana Iliyas, who has written the guide, said: “People with South Asian heritage have a higher risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Speaking in Nutrition and Hydration Week , she said: “I wanted to use my own expertise and experience around healthy eating and the South Asian diet to produce a handout that could help.”

Afsana delivers health interventions in our Connect for Health (C4H) school nursing service across Warwickshire. She said: “Compass is committed to Equality and Diversity. All service users are valued equally and providing information and support whilst taking into consideration cultural needs to enable them to lead a healthy lifestyle is crucial.”

According to Diabetes UK, people from South Asian communities are six times more likely to develop diabetes and three times more likely to develop heart disease than white British people.

Afsana, a member of Compass’ Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Steering Group, says in her guide: “Many of the traditional foods such as dahls, pulses and all types of vegetables are healthy choices but the way that the dishes are prepared is significant.”

She advises that people should

  • Avoid using ghee, butter, coconut, or palm oil in cooking.  Replace saturated fats with small amounts of healthier unsaturated fats such as rapeseed (usually sold as pure vegetable oil), olive, sunflower, corn oil.
  • Check food labels. For saturated fat, look for foods with 1.5g or less of saturates per 100g – if a product has 5g or more per 100g it is high in saturates.
  • Whenever possible, microwave, steam, poach, bake, boil or grill instead of frying. 
  • Invest in a good quality non-stick frying pan 
  • Brown off meat then drain excess fat off
  • Avoid adding ghee, butter or oil to your chapatti dough
  • Skim off any oil that settles on top of the cooked curry.
  • Use smaller portions of meat and add extra vegetables and pulse

The handout is currently being designed by our in-house team at C4H and once completed will be used initially in schools across Warwickshire. Its messages would be delivered at parent coffee mornings and parents’ evenings and workshops.

The information could also be used in other newsletters which go out to schools across Warwickshire – in particular around festivals such as Eid and Diwali.

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